Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Nothing to Save Us, But Love

—Photo by Joyce Odam

(After “To Musick” by Robert Herrick)
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

I take your word—spell it olde—
impose the distance ever between

the now and then—enter—and be
there—listen for the beginning

that leads to here—that fills
between—that resonates—

that endures—only a thought long
and a yearn away

from what still charms the soul.
and enchants the ears.



—Joyce Odam


Take my reluctant hand

with its seven slow lines

that go outward from the palm.

Trace my sad histories
with your discerning fingers;
hum a soft song.

Pull my eyes to your face
and there erase the seven sorrows
that I hide from myself.

Mention the tomorrows;
mention the seven lies that fit.
I will love you. I will leave

my hand in your hand while you
hypnotize my oldest terror.
I will follow you through

your language made of praise
while you gaze me deeper.
Soon I will float through your eyes

and there disguise myself with
seven veils. You will get lost
in them.

—Joyce Odam 

True as the gold light in your eye
that fastened like a sun
to my dark mirage,

a circle of stars, a core of words,
like a power surrounding you.
I was only heat-shimmer—

spinning in the light.
We did not reach,
I was dreaming on a blue ice floe,

you on another.
There was nothing to save us,
but love. Even our souls wept.

—Photo by Joyce Odam 

—Joyce Odam

catch in a pony tail
tangle the curl
twist in the fingers
rope trip a girl

rope be a measure
rope be the lie
jump to a thousand
and we’ll never die

slap on the sidewalk
snag in the grass
here comes a cripple
don’t let him pass

we never stumble
we never cheat
death fears the rhythm
of our feet

jump into moonlight
night is a hole
rope is a circle
that hands unroll

ninety nine hundred
jump till we drop
here come the mothers
to make us stop.


(first pub. in Yankee, 1964 and
Chapbook: The Confetti Within, 1964)



—Joyce Odam

one by one I arrange them
on my shelves

sharp and brilliant
like glass


vain and useless
poignant and repetitive

giving in at last to new ones


how my collection grows

conjured real
by tricks of incantations

become semi-precious
like stones

held by a spreading shimmer
till they dull and blend

by loss  
by years

each indiscernible
from the other


—Joyce Odam

It is how you repeat sad phrases to me
in your soft voice that diminishes . . .
If only you could give me music
I might hear . . .
Had you died, I would grieve, but silence
is only silence, as death is death . . .
Your body moved in a quiet dance—
a slow wreathe to the music I could not hear . . .
How clever, the music, to escort you
into somewhere unreachable . . .
You turned away into yourself.
Not a shadow, not a mirror followed this . . .
I pulled from myself what I knew of you,
all your spells and confusions . . .            
When you returned, it was with nothing you
remembered.  I wept and named you love.


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s gourmet cookery, and congratulations to her on her 88th birthday! We are celebrating the occasion with her first-ever photo album on Medusa’s Facebook page—be sure to check it out!

This week’s Seed of the Week is La Golondrina. It seems like I see her nests everywhere, with giant beaks peaking over them, peering down at me. What do you have to say about La Golondrina—and why hasn’t she returned to Capistrano??

Also: last week our Form to Fiddle With was to write entire stories out of six words. Carl Schwartz stacked the six words rather than putting them out on a single line, giving each one more visual weight and making the form more poem-like. Taylor Graham invented another variation, making each line a six-word story that could stand on its own and then stringing them together with a very loose thread. (See her example, “60-Word Bio”, on our August 1 post.) But Taylor’s form needs a name—any ideas?

And we have a new Form With Which to Fiddle—the idyl/idyll (apparently nobody can decide how to spell it). The examples on Wiki are beautiful but somewhat archaic—nobody says you have to use old-fashioned tongues to admire the bucolic world around you. Let loose your idyllic self however suits you...


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

You have brought me a love poem,
and I learned its words and sang it back to you.

Your prayers were chants of sorrow.
You made me learn them, and now I pray for you.

You make circles and circles, which I enter.
They are both vanished and deep. Where am I.

Your eyes pull downward, and I find drowning
and a dark sleep. We are so old here.

Our eyes have turned to a grave of sadness.
The other mourners have left, and we no longer weep.



  —Photo by Joyce Odam